Studies released earlier this year showed learning two languages and repeated syllables, like choo-choo for train or night-night for good night, can boost your baby’s speech development.
But, you might want to keep the house quiet too as recent research published in the journal Child Development shows background noise makes it harder for toddlers to learn new words.
“Modern homes are filled with noisy distractions such as TV, radio and people talking that could affect how children learn words at early ages,” said lead author Brianna McMillan, a doctoral student in psychology at the University of Wisconsin.
“Our study suggests that adults should be aware of the amount of background speech in the environment when they're interacting with young children,” she said.
The study involved 106 children aged 22 to 30 months who participated in three different experiments that assessed their ability to learn new words in different environments.
The first experiment had the toddlers learn nonsense words (like “tursey” and “blicket”) in a room where the background noise was either 5 or 10 decibels quieter than the voice of the teacher. Results showed that the children were able to learn the words when the room was quieter but not when the background noise was loud. This was also the case when the experiment was done on an older group of toddlers.
The third experiment had the toddlers learn the meaning of words in a noisy room. They were able to do so but only when they had already been introduced to the words beforehand in a quitter setting.
“Hearing new words in fluent speech without a lot of background noise before trying to learn what objects the new words corresponded to may help very young children master new vocabulary,” said study co-author Jenny Saffran, a professor of psychology.
And, if you're thinking "What's the point? a rich vocabulary actually matters a lot. A rich vocabulary in children around the age of 3 can be a significant indicator of academic success. In fact, gadgets are even being invented with the sole purpose of counting the number of words a child says in a day.
Teaching and exposing a child to as much new words as possible should not be overlooked. Turn off the TV and talk to your child often and about anything. Alice Sterling Honig, Ph.D., professor emerita of child development of Syracuse University in the U.S., suggests exposing your child to new words during his daily activities. Teach him “cereal” during breakfast and naming body parts when you’re giving him a bath, says Honig. And of course, children’s books are always a good idea.